Saturday 11 May 2019

Bible Book:
1 Corinthians

Can it be that there is no one among you wise enough to decide between one believer and another, but a believer goes to court against a believer – and before unbelievers at that? (vs. 5b-6)

1 Corinthians 6:1-11 Saturday 11 May 2019

Psalm: Psalm 126


An issue Paul needed urgently to address with the Christians in Corinth was that of how to handle grievances. It had been reported to him that one member of this young Christian community had taken another to court – to the magistrate’s court. Why, he wanted to know, had these two people not been able to sort things out within the community and with the help of other believers? He had many questions – there is a total of nine in these verses! He was furious.

We have no way of knowing the nature of the problem, but it is easy to see the principles with which Paul was working as he addresses the situation. The question on which he asked the whole Christian community to reflect was whether or not it was appropriate to invite someone with a different and worldly set of standards and values to mediate in a dispute between followers of Jesus Christ. Can such a person be expected to see things as God sees them? And how was this public wrangling impacting on witness to the Gospel in the wider Corinthian community?

There are many things upon which Christians differ – attend the decision-making body of any church and that becomes clear. Raise a controversial issue and note how quickly an assembly can become polarised. And there are times, now as then, when such heated debate gets into the public arena. Paul saw this public squabbling as yet another sign of immaturity in the faith – "is there no one among you who is wise enough to decide between one believer and another?" he demanded.

We may struggle with these verses, not least when we are confronted by issues of justice and equality, love and compassion, in society. Christians differ -–but the foundation for handling difference is "love with a spirit of gentleness" and not "a stick", as Paul observed to his friends (4:21).


To Ponder:

  • Reflect on some of the Church-dividing issues of today? How do you think these are impacting on the proclamation of the gospel?
  • Remember a time when you had a strong disagreement with a fellow believer. How did you resolve this?
  • Think about some issues that may be too important to agree upon easily – how can this be accommodated without compromising Christian witness?
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